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Aug. 12, 1915 - July 23, 2013

A memorial service Ruther (Ruth) Lee Crawford, a community leader, will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Second Baptist Church, 18 Church St., Lackawanna.

Mrs. Crawford died July 23 in Erie County Medical Center after a short illness. She was 97.

Born Ruther Lee Pearson in Alexander City, Ala., she relocated with her family to Dayton, Ohio, and then moved to Lackawanna when her mother died in 1927.

A Lackawanna High School graduate, she hit many milestones in her life. She was the first minority member hired at E.J. Meyer City Hospital – now Erie County Medical Center – in the dietary department. She also was the first minority member hired at the A&P grocery store that was located on Ridge Road in Lackawanna.

In addition, Mrs. Crawford worked for Tomaka’s Drugs as a cashier and then was hired as a teacher’s aide in the Lackawanna School District.

She retired in 1978 from the Lackawanna schools and then started working with the Erie County Senior Companion Program for Erie County Child and Family Services. She retired from the county job in 2008.

A longtime member of Second Baptist Church, she helped carry lunches to workers constructing the facility on Church Street more than 50 years ago, her family said. She also transported coal from the Bethlehem Steel railroad tracks to the church to keep the fires burning during the winter months.

As an adult, Mrs. Crawford was a musician for various choirs at the church, a member of the Senior Usher Board, kitchen committee, Senior Choir and the Missionary Society. She also was a pastor’s aide and was the supervisor of the Littlest Angels Children’s Choir.

In addition, she was one of the founding members of the Medical Task Force at E.J. Meyer Hospital. The group was later renamed the Nurses’ Guild.

Mrs. Crawford enjoyed taking daily walks throughout the neighborhood for exercise.

She is survived by a daughter, Juanita.